Sustainable Hilltowns is a collection of stories by the everyday people of the Helderberg Hilltowns. These people are telling you what it’s like to be a Hilltowner.
The Albany County Hilltowns, the backbone of Albany County, New York. Where else in Albany County will you find that all the business are locally owned? Until I check it out further, I’ll have to admit that there might be one, possibly two, businesses that are not locally owned.
[12/13/2013 - Today, I had a chance to check out one of the businesses, and found out it is local. While that leaves the other one to check out, the ownership of another small came into question. So I still have 2 to check.]
By locally owned, I mean owned by the Hilltown residents, or in a few cases by persons who live a short drive away. And that there are no “chain” businesses within the Hilltowns.
Agriculture has long been the mainstay on the escarpment, with dairy/milk farms dominating. Today, a drive through the Hilltowns, and the rest of the county, will turn up very few dairy farms. I’d guess that there are fewer than 20 farms left that rely on milk cows as the primary source of income. Kinda sad when you realize that Albany County was once the largest milk producing county in New York State.
But don’t think for one moment that agriculture isn’t still alive in the Hilltowns. Today, you’ll find a variety of smaller farms raising beef cattle, hogs, sheep, llamas, goats, poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys), and an assortment of vegetables and fruits. There are also some maple product producers, and beekeepers – think honey and wax.
Along with the agricultural ventures, there are also several deli/convenient stores, insurance agents, accountants, sand/gravel/construction operations, a hose reel manufacturer, a locksmith, a feed store, a couple of hardware stores, sit down restaurants, craft producers, to name only a few of the enterprises.
Some out the businesses are quite visible, many you might need to ask where they are, because they are what might be called cottage industries, because the are operated out of the home, or inside another business.